NFL Futures: What Team Will Be Next Year’s Eagles or Chiefs? Bengals or 49ers?

NFL Futures: What Team Will Be Next Year’s Eagles or Chiefs? Bengals or 49ers? article feature image

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert

It's Super Bowl season and all the focus the next two weeks will be on the Eagles and Chiefs, but it's never too early to start thinking about next year's NFL futures.

Every NFL team wants to be where Philadelphia and Kansas City are right now, prepping to play for the biggest prize of them all.

But what teams might profile as next year's Eagles or Chiefs? Who has the foundation in place to make the run to get where Philly and K.C. are now one year later?

What other teams could be next year's Bengals or 49ers – Super Bowl contenders all the way before falling just short? Who might be the 2024 version of the Bills or Cowboys, favorites all season?

Let's take a look and get an early edge on 2024 Super Bowl futures.

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Next Year's Eagles: Detroit Lions

What made this year's Eagles great?

It started by winning in the trenches, on both sides of the ball. Philadelphia has the best and deepest offensive line in the league and a nasty run game paired with a devastating passing game. The Eagles also have the league's fiercest pass rush and a good secondary. Add in a young coaching staff that found some answers and a quarterback who made an MVP leap in the right system, and the Eagles were cooking.

Could the Lions be next year's Eagles?

Detroit has the foundation in place on offense. The line might be the only one in the league that can rival Philly's, and D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams give the team a powerful RB duo. Amon-Ra St. Brown is a star at receiver a la Cooper Kupp, and Jameson Williams will add blazing speed as effectively an additional first-round pick next year.

The key to the offense is OC Ben Johnson, one of the league's hottest assistants. He's had this offense humming since taking over late last season, elevating St. Brown and turning Jared Goff back into a competent QB, and it was a huge win for Detroit when Johnson turned down head coach interviews to stick around another year. His playcalling and Dan Campbell's kneecap-biting mirror Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen in Philadelphia.

Detroit's defense has a long way to go, but the foundation is there on the defensive line with Aidan Hutchinson, while James Houston was a major find at linebacker as a rookie and Jeff Okudah finally looked like a star corner this year. The Lions defense took a huge post-bye leap, and Detroit ranks top 10 in cap space with a chance to add more depth and talent on that side.

How far can Campbell and Johnson take this talented roster – and is the ceiling capped with Goff? Goff ranked sixth among QBs in EPA per play this year, just one spot behind Jalen Hurts.

The Lions won eight of their final 10 and knocked the Packers out of the playoffs in the finale. Could that be a springboard to something special next fall? The Lions are +3000 to win the 2024 Super Bowl at DraftKings.

Next Year's Chiefs: Cincinnati Bengals

Next year's Chiefs will probably just be this year's Chiefs, or last year's, or the year after. There's only one Patrick Mahomes after all, and it's pretty hard to just magically imagine which team will have an MVP god-level QB next year.

The Bills are an obvious choice here if Josh Allen stays healthy, but the Bills are in cap hell and might face a depleted roster. Could the Bengals be the pick instead?

Joe Burrow looks ready to make a serious run at the MVP, and he seems ready to make a claim for top QB in the league. The Bengals took a month to figure things out this year but never lost a game after Halloween – until one fateful penalty in the AFC Championship.

Cincinnati is a couple of plays away from returning to the Super Bowl, and the Bengals were a couple of plays from winning it all last year. Burrow and Chase should have this team in contention at the top every year, and Cincinnati has the third most cap space in the league to continue to add to its offensive line. Plus, the defense won't lose much outside of its safeties.

The Bengals will be back.

Next Year's Bengals: Los Angeles Chargers

Could the Chargers be the next offensive juggernaut to join the ranks at the top of the AFC? The Chargers always seem to be at their best in the offseason on paper, before everything goes wrong, but what if next year is different?

There's little question Justin Herbert has all the goods at QB. He had a disappointing year by many measures but had a major rib injury early, then played without most of his receivers and offensive line all season and still had his team in the playoffs anyway and up big in the first round before things all went wrong, like they always seem to for this team.

We'll never know if all the stars on this team can finally stay healthy, but the big change on this team has already come at offensive coordinator. Gone is Joe Lombardi and his mind-numbingly frustrating barrage of check downs and throws to the flat. In comes Kellen Moore from Dallas, and Moore has had highs and lows but is generally one of the more creative play callers and does a terrific job elevating his talent.

Lombardi was the biggest reason I never felt comfortable backing Herbert or the Chargers this year. If Moore opens up this offense and caters it to Herbert's strengths, attacking the sidelines and down the field, everything changes for this team. A little more speed at receiver wouldn't hurt either, of course, but the talent is there for this offense to be as good as anyone's, much like Cincinnati's.

Brandon Staley still makes questionable game-day decisions like Zac Taylor does, but he's also put together some brilliant defensive game plans a la Lou Anarumo. The Chargers have more defensive talent than the Bengals already, and Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams rival Cincinnati's quartet on offense.

If the Chargers stay healthy and find their way under Kellen Moore, they could be a steal at +2200 to win the Super Bowl.

Next Year's 49ers: New York Jets

The 49ers are a fun team to imagine. They were already a few plays from last year's Super Bowl with a tenacious defense and a flurry of weapons, but who could have imagined the team would be right back there – but only after adding the league's most versatile running back and a quarterback taken with the last pick of the draft?

The Jets fit the bill as an already nasty defense with a ton of weapons just waiting for the perfect solution at quarterback.

The defense was already playoff and maybe Super Bowl caliber this year. Quinnen Williams was a DPOY candidate on the line, while Sauce Gardner looks likely to win DROY at corner. New York has a ton of young talent and depth and really gave this team an identity under DeMeco Ryans' predecessor in San Francisco, Robert Saleh.

The question now is the other side of the ball. The weapons are certainly there. Breece Hall probably would've won Rookie of the Year until he went out injured, and now he returns to pair with his potential OROY replacement, Garrett Wilson. The Jets have been building up their young offensive line too.

The pieces are all there except at quarterback.

So who could be this team's Brock Purdy? The ship has probably sailed on Zach Wilson, and the Mike White train derails every time it takes off. New York is a very intriguing destination for the big QB names on the market, though.

Add in a marquee QB like Aaron Rodgers or Lamar Jackson, and this team suddenly becomes one of the Super Bowl favorites. If those names aren't available, Derek Carr could be this team's Jimmy Garoppolo – heck, it could be Garoppolo himself.

Even competent QB play would make the Jets very interesting next season, and good play could make them great. The Jets are +2500 to win it all, and the right QB trade or signing could cut those odds in half.

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Next Year's Bills: San Francisco 49ers

The Bills didn't make the NFL's final four but were a clear Super Bowl contender all season, a juggernaut with an offense, defense, special teams and coaching built to win it all. Buffalo was the favorite most of the season. The Bills had everything, and in another timeline, this team is probably playing in the Super Bowl.

Could the 49ers be next year's juggernaut and league favorite?

It'll depend on quarterback. It's hard to imagine Purdy giving them that status or playing the role of Josh Allen, but could his UCL injury open the door for the Niners to make a run at someone like Aaron Rodgers or Lamar Jackson? Add a stud like that to this roster, you've got next year's Super Bowl favorite.

If it's not Rodgers or Jackson, could the return of a healthy Trey Lance give San Francisco a similar boost? Like Josh Allen, Lance is a tough runner with a huge arm but still needs to find that big career jump Allen made in his third season.

If the 49ers can find a star QB somewhere, they'll be league favorites.

Next Year's Cowboys: Cleveland Browns

The Cowboys are all about star power and public spotlight. Micah Parsons is a superstar who transforms the defense and wrecks entire game plans, and the rest of the roster is dotted with stars like Dallas's helmets. Add in a run-heavy offense and a quarterback everyone's got an opinion on, and you start to see the Browns comparison.

Myles Garrett entered this year as the DPOY favorite. He's a game-changer in defense, and Cleveland has a ton of defensive talent around him, even if the Browns disappointed greatly this year thanks to injuries and DC Joe Woods. Woods is gone now, and new DC Jim Schwartz has a long history of excellence coaching up defense. This unit should be on the rise and could give this team a real identity next season.

The offense already looks a lot like the Cowboys. The offensive line is outstanding and anchors one of the league's best rushing attacks with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt a better version of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Amari Cooper has already arrived from Dallas and had a nice year, though like the Cowboys, this team could use another receiver or two.

The big question comes at quarterback. Deshaun Watson was mostly miserable in his Cleveland debut late in the season, but he's a top-five talent when things go well. The Cowboys had as high a ceiling as any team when Dak Prescott was whirring and the defense was playing well. The Browns could look just as dangerous if Watson finds his legs again next season.

At +4500 to win the Super Bowl, the Browns are the longest shot on this list, longer than teams such as the Bucs, Raiders and Giants, who don't even have quarterbacks. The Browns already have theirs, and if they're right, they could have an actual contender next fall.

You have to admit, it's pretty intriguing. But, of course, they're still the Browns, so like the Cowboys, we probably already know how this all ends either way.

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